Over your lifetime, you’re bound to rack up a stack of frequent flyer points. So the big questions here are:
a) can you include your frequent flyer points in your Will? And;
b) can a executor transfer points to a family member from a deceased's account?
Well, every frequent flyer program has a different policy. We’ve done the groundwork and rounded up a whole list of loyalty programs. Here’s what we found:
Qantas Frequent Flyer
Qantas have pretty strict rules when it comes to transferring points. Like, watertight rules. Basically, they state that any Qantas Points that have not yet been redeemed or transferred prior to the death of the Member will be cancelled with effect from the date of death. So, no dice. But, no need to abort mission just yet – you can transfer points to family members through Qantas Family Transfers. The catch? You kind of have to do it while you’re still living the high life, and of course it comes with its own set of risks, but more on that down below.
Velocity Frequent Flyer
Velocity Frequent Flyer has a more considerate policy when it comes to using a deceased family member’s frequent flyer points. Although the status credits will be cancelled straight away, points can still be enjoyed for up to 12 months after passing. The executors of an estate can also choose to either use the points, or have them transferred out of the deceased's account, so you can leave instructions for the points to be distributed, but this has to occur within 12 months of the death, or the points will be – you guessed it – null and void. Donezo.
Singapore Airlines’s membership program KrisFlyer is basically flying in solidarity with Qantas. Their points don’t fall under the ‘personal property’ category, so they can’t be bequeathed or treated as personal property. In other words, they were never the property of the account holder in the first place, so they’re not theirs to give away. It’s a bleak thought.
Cathay Pacific and Asia Miles
All forfeited upon the death of the member. No further comment.
Etihad cancels all points and closes the account upon death, but it’s worth noting that the airline is relatively flexible about the afterlife of points ‘at their sole discretion’ – it just means that they’ll probably request documentation like a death certificate before they proceed.
Upon the notification of death (or even bankruptcy) of a member, all points and benefits are immediately terminated, Schwarzenegger-style. Although, at Emirates’ discretion, the points can be transferred to a legal beneficiary upon producing a death certificate/Will/similar legal document. This has to happen within 6 months and only applies for balances over 2,000 miles, though.
Where to from here …
You could include instructions about your frequent flyer points in your Will. After all, there have been quite a few instances where airlines have agreed to transfer points out to family members after death, provided the relevant paperwork is handed over. This is usually on a case-by-case basis, and nothing is ever guaranteed. It’s worth the try, though.
Another option is to give a family member full access to your account so they can transfer the points out (or continue to redeem them for flights) before the account is closed. But it’s important to note that airlines won’t back you if you give your login details to someone before you die, and they decide to spend your points. This is why it’s important to only go down this road if it’s someone who you completely trust.
Most of the main airlines state that frequent flyer points aren’t technically the property of its members and therefore can’t be transferred to next of kin. They belong to the airline, so the airline can choose to cancel the points if the account holder dies. Most programs have a similar statement that says you can only transfer them in accordance with the terms and conditions. But it’s worth noting that some airlines have more of a considerate approach, allowing a deceased member’s points to be bequeathed or transferred to a family member at their discretion.